23 January 2018

Keeping students safe on social media platforms

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We’re dealing with a generation of digital-engagers. ‘Screen-agers’ if you will. Right or wrong, a majority of Gen Z’s social interactions take place on social media and in the online universe.

As of 2017, approximately 99% of 18-29 year olds and 96% of undergraduate students in Australia actively use social media on a daily basis.

Research conducted by the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) has shown that the number of Young Australians who rate the internet as ‘very important’ has doubled since 2009.

For students in higher education - whether it’s Universities, TAFEs, VETs, RTOs or other – the pros and perks of social media engagement are compelling. Offering opportunities for real-time engagement with peers and professors, access to information, sharing ideas, finding social events or simply expanding your circle of friends, the boom of social media has changed the face of student interaction.

Not only this, but from a University’s business perspective, it seems the most powerful tool for current and prospective student engagement is in the online universe. Using social media effectively can expand market scope, increase student recruitment and drive engagement. 

However, it’s a risky space.

There is little denying the social media makes it easier for students to bully or abuse their peers — coupling the sense of anonymity with an seeming lack of consequence for negative comments and bullying, the online universe can be a hostile place for young people. Particularly when personal information is not protected and/or students aren’t aware of how to keep themselves safe on social media, the dangers can become much more real than the benefits.

It’s imperative that Universities understand the best strategies for maintaining a safe social networking space, and encourage students to learn more about how to stay safe on social media. When used safely and effectively, online social platforms can act as a strong catalyst for engagement and positive student experience throughout their higher education journey.

What policies and procedures does your organisation have in place for the use of social media?

Written by: Beth Hampton

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!
Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places.

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